I am, admittedly, something of a YouTube video essay fanboy.
I usually have one playing in the background while I’m working, cooking, doing chores, etc. I’ll watch 2hr+ videos in 5 or 6 chunks like a podcast if I have to.
For years now, one of my favorite video essayists on YouTube has been Dan Olson, the Alberta, Canada-based creator behind the channel Folding Ideas.
Olson first caught my attention with his video “The Art of Editing and Suicide Squad.”
Released December 31, 2016, this essay does a brilliant job explaining what made Suicide Squad (2016) so difficult to watch.
In doing so, he presages a lot of issues that have plagued action movies since – namely, shoddy work done by artists under duress at the whims of bean counter studio execs.
What are the best videos on Folding Ideas’ channel?
Olson has released 174 videos, but recently has slowed down his prolific (and YouTube algorithm-friendly) “one video a week” pace and the results of this patience really show.
He now makes lengthy videos that tackle complex ideas in tech, gaming, or culture and refine them to all the bits you need to know to become fluent in the topic.
I’m going to highlight three standout essays, but I’d encourage you to subscribe to Folding Ideas and dig in anywhere that interests you.
The documentary that killed NFTs
On January 21, 2022, Olson released his most comprehensive documentary to date, Line Goes Up — The Problem with NFTs.
Now boasting over 10m views, this essay covers everything (and I mean everything) you need to know about NFTs.
He touches on Bored Apes, the massive Axie Infinity scam, and the false evangelism that drives the entire NFT and Crypto space.
I don’t know if it’s totally fair to credit this essay with the NFT crash, but it’s fun to say it did.
What happed to the metaverse?
Folding Ideas’ most recent documentary, The Future is a Dead Mall – Decentraland and the Metaverse is an absolute barn-burner.
Olson subjected himself to massive psychic damage by spending hours on Decentraland, the current platonic ideal of “the metaverse.” He even spent New Years 2023 in this low-polygon hell and did it for us.
The video dives deep into the marketing behind Decentraland, the Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that “govern” the space, and more.
For his 2020 video, In Search of a Flat Earth, Dan Olson went to Lake Minnewanka to conclusively prove, once and for all, that the earth is round.
What starts as a rather placid documentary showing the beauty of this Alberta glacial lake quickly escalates.
Without giving too much away, the 2nd half of this essay drills down on conspiracy movements like Q Anon and asks what causes otherwise “normal” people to fall for such blatant lies.
So, should you subscribe to Folding Ideas?
If you’re a fan of tech, gaming, nerd culture, or any related topics, you’ll find something to love in Folding Ideas’ videos.
Olson does a brilliant job distilling complex topics and keeping the conversation breezy and engaging — even if the essays he produces are sometimes lengthy.
In case it wasn’t clear from the title of this article, you should subscribe to Folding Ideas today, if not sooner!
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